History of Urban Sketchers

History of Urban Sketchers

Urban Sketchers is the brainchild of Spanish-born illustrator and journalist Gabriel Campanario, a staff artist and blogger at The Seattle Times. After seeing an increasing number of people sharing their location drawings in the blogosphere, Campanario started a flickr group in November 2007 as a showcase of urban sketches. A year later, he decided to expand the flickr initiative with a by-invitation group blog where correspondents would commit to posting on a regular basis and also sharing the stories behind the sketches.

In a short period of time, the Urban Sketchers blog and sister flickr group have become popular online outlets for people to share their location drawings. Thousands visit daily for inspiration or to travel vicariously through the visual dispatches from hundreds of contributors on six continents. The blog and its artists have been featured in magazines and newspapers across the globe (see Press).

From dynamic cities like London, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, Lisbon, Singapore and Seoul, sketchers portray everyday life — from commuters on packed rush-hour subways to coffee drinkers at a sidewalk cafĂ©. Their open sketchbooks show lively streetscapes, soaring architecture and intriguing faces, all quickly rendered by the sometimes furtive scratching of pen to paper.

"Drawing a city isn't just capturing it on paper, it's really about getting to know it, to feel it, to make it your own," says Nina Johansson, a correspondent in Stockholm.

To better serve this rapidly growing community, Campanario and other blog correspondents established Urban Sketchers as a nonprofit organization on December 6, 2009. The nonprofit aims to organize educational workshops and raise funds for artists' grants and scholarships.

Urban Sketchers was recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States on Feb. 16, 2011. All donations to our nonprofit are tax deductible.

"The idea of urban sketching can appeal to anyone with a minimum interest in drawing, no matter their skill level. You get so much out of it, improving your drawing skills, seeing your city anew and gaining appreciation for it, creating a visual journal of your life, finding a supportive community online, immersing yourself in other cultures when you travel with your sketchbook." (Gabriel Campanario)

1 comment:

  1. Ever heard of #WanderingSketchbooks? Hello! I am a member of Urban Sketchers in Seattle. I am seeking another artist to pass on a WanderingSketchbook to.

    I contributed a sketch in it, and now need to give it to someone else who will do the same. I will be staying in San Diego from October 10th to 13th. To hand the book off, I could meet anybody in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott hotel where I will be staying, or at a coffee shop near there.


    So, might any San Diego urban sketchers be interested in contributing art in this little sketchbook? There are both simple and fancy art in it. See it all at:


    My instagram is:

    Thank you,
    Eric Kiersky